Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as “Queen of Heaven”
“Having conquered the natural death of humanity in Her Ascension, She was not abandoned to decay, according to church belief, She was resurrected by Her Son after three days, and dwells in his celebrated body of His right hand in heaven as Queen of Heaven.”
Although nowhere do the writers of the gospels ever suggest even the slightest idea that Jesus’ mother could be the “Queen of Heaven”, the Orthodox Church considers its reverence for Mary as correct and faithful. It is obvious that the history of the church at some point adopted syncretism, i.e. the fusion of pagan ideas with Christian belief. Ernst Benz confirms specific examples of syncretism:
“It is instructive that the cult of the Mother of God gained strong momentum at a time when Constantine gave official state recognition to the Christian church by making it the official religion of the Empire and when the pagan masses of the Roman Empire began to have access to the church. The peoples of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, whose piety and religious awareness over thousands of years created a large cult of the mother-goddess and divine virgins – which developed from the ancient folk religions of Babylon in the mystery cult of Ashtarte during the Hellenistic periods and resulted in devotion to the cult of the goddess as a voluntary, uniting factor for all peoples and nations – could not accept exclusively the rule of God the Father and the strict patriarchal structure of the Jewish concept of God as captured in early Christian teaching. By the thousands they requested deity worship through the cult of devotion to the Great Virgin and Mother to be also in the Christian Church, despite unfavorable conditions, a new opportunity for expression was found in devotion to the Virgin Mother of God, which produced the mysterious union of the divine Logos with human nature. The spontaneous impulse of folk piety, which was penetrated by this direction, went far ahead in the practice and doctrine of the Church.”
It is fascinating to read the information from Professor Miroslav Markovic that confirms the strong influence of paganism on the development of doctrine about the Mother of God:
“It logically follows that the ‘queen of heaven,’ is the planet Venus, the morning star (Phosphoros) and Hesperus (Hesperos), the goddess Ishtar-Aphrodite-Ashtarte with power over the sea. It chases away the storm clouds and stills the waves. Therefore, it became the protector of sailors and received the epithets Pontia, Euploia and Limenia (“goddess of navigation, happiness, and peaceful harbor”).
The early Christian Virgin Mary inherited the functions of Aphrodite as ‘the Queen of Heaven’ (regina caeli), Ruler of the Sea (Venus Marina), and the protector of sailors. Even to today, many rural churches on the Aphrodite island nation of Cyprus under the name of Theotokos pray to the Panagia Aphroditissa (‘most holy Aphrodite’).”